REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview

Ever wonder what a video arcade game would feel like if it was done in VR? Well this is perhaps one of the closest we can get to that feeling! Though this early access title has to do some work on diversifying the designs and streamlining movement, it's definitely a fun casual game for the Vive. Don your headset and watch your feet as we take a closer look!

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview

Introduction

When your controller is shaped like a gun complete with trigger, it's only natural there would be more than a few arcade shooter titles in the (relatively) early stages of VR.  I won't claim to have played them all, but I would say that REGENESIS by Hyperbook Studio is definitely one of the better ones I've played.  Though I'm not a fan of how it makes you have to move around, which is naturally awkward when you're literally tethered to a computer, and occasionally the designs got a tad monotonous, I did enjoy pretty much everything else about the game.  It is a shallow experience, I could never play it for more than a few rounds before I would move on to something else.  Still, I could see me breaking out this game whenever I have friends over to play on the Vive.

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE is available on Steam for $9.99.

Story

The word "Arcade" is key in that title, as it's just like the old arcade games.  The story is just an excuse for the action, not any attempt at a deep narrative.  The tutorial is you waking up from cryogenic slumber and suddenly there are a bunch of robots who want you dead.  It's a thin pretense for giving you weapons and throwing robots at you until you die, but in a game like this that's all the story really needs to be.  

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview, I'm not saying this is Wheatley, but the game never says it isn't Wheatley.

gameplay

Again, "Arcade" is the keyword in the title.  The action really channels those shooter games that are at the old arcades remaining in my area, but with a VR edge that makes them somehow both smoother and not.  Enemies are coming in on all sides, so you had better stay on your toes to avoid losing one of your three lives.

Point and shoot

This is a shooter with a VR controller that has a trigger.  Shoot by pointing the controller at a thing pulling the trigger and if the thing was in front of your gun it won't be there anymore.  You have a blaster rifle, a railgun, and a shotgun that you can switch around by flicking the trackpad, and if you put the controller behind your head you can change from your guns to a shield and a gravity gun assuming the motion tracks.  The former is just your standard directional block, and the latter lets you throw around bits of the scenery and some enemies, which is really handy against shielded enemies.  I actually also really liked taking one of the park benches and whipping it around to annihilate enemies that got too close.  There's a good, visceral satisfaction to it that only gets better as you increase your level and give your guns upgrades.  I wish you could get some permanent upgrades though, not just a few new levels.  Still, I can't complain about that as vehemently as in the past because it is essentially an arcade game, and if you retained the past players upgrades whenever you started a new game at an arcade, that would probably make everything way, way too easy.

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview, Using a sign as a flail is definitely one of the more satisfying bits.

Movement?

I will say the biggest point against this game is the fact that it requires your to move around a lot.  I wouldn't mind moving a little in game, though it is awkward clicking the trackpad on either stick to move, especially since you're getting swarmed constantly from all sides, but there's no option to click around to turn, so I'm standing in my play area spinning around in a headset that's physically tethered to a computer, afraid at any moment I'm going to fall like an AT-AT in Return of the Jedi.  I'm not opposed to the immersion aspect of that movement, but I would have loved an alternative movement control that didn't make me accidentally change my weapon half the time so I'd go underneath a robot with what I thought was a shotgun for a devastating blow only to tickle it with a single wimpy shot from the blaster.

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview, GETAWAYGETAWAYGETAWAYGETAWA-

They're just features

This is an early access game, and though it isn't a bad one it does have a few growing pains, but not many and none that are unfixable.  I still feel like I should address them though so there are two main ones:  First, unlocking new levels.  Normally they are unlocked only when you beat a certain wave on the last stage or you can unlock it by being a certain player rank, which I think is good design.  If one level is too much of a pain you aren't stuck.  Well, you wouldn't be, but for the longest time I was stuck on one stage and even though I was the proper rank I still hadn't unlocked the next level.  The second was very specific but it did happen often if inconsistently. I was fighting these electric spider-bot things and despite throwing it out of the stage, it still registered as there so not only did the wave not end but I was being chased by what I felt like was the ghost of Palpatine, shocking me with lightning until I died as I was unable to do anything but run..

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview, Face me, coward!

Graphics and audio

The medium of virtual reality is meant to immerse the player more fully into the world of the game, and the graphics and audio really help to emphasize the weird, shiny, science fiction dystopia in which you've somehow wound up.  The music is slick, the designs are detailed, and the sound engineering does a great job of conveying when things are approaching or locked on, which is part of the reason the movement in this game didn't completely kill the enjoyment for me.

I do, however, take some issue with the designs of some of the enemies right now.  Not that I think they're bad, they're just to similar.  From a distance, the only thing telling the shielded or plasma bolt drones from the normal drones are whether they have a shield or obnoxiously dodge your attacks.  It's just a simple color palate swap, mechanics aside.  Every now and again you'll get a big spider bot or big flying drone which are differentiated from the others by being big and colored darker.  The fun of survival shooters like this wears out a lot more quickly when the enemies constantly assaulting you look basically the same.  It just isn't as interesting.  

REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE Preview, I faced this boss several times.  In different levels.  Slightly different attack patterns.

conclusion

Do you like arcade games?  Do you like VR?  Well then REGENESIS Arcade DELUXE is a good pick for you.  This isn't something that I can play for a long period of time.  The whole system and necessity of movement feel a bit awkward and similar-looking enemies constantly flying at your face can get a little boring.  That said, the brief time I spend with it every time is enjoyable, and for an early access it is rather impressive for having only a couple bugs of note.  I'll probably wind up in the mood to play again after I'm done reviewing it, but only as a snack in between meatier games.  For it's price, I'd say it's worth it as a party game.  Something to plug in when you want to show off your new VR gear to your jealous friends.  Just be sure they watch their feet around the cable.

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